No. 6 Villanova 68, Bucknell 52
Corey Fisher showed hustle with a head-first dive over the
scorer’s table only 5 seconds into the game. Later, Fisher showed
he can replace departed All-America Scottie Reynolds with some
clutch 3s down the stretch.
Fisher delivered big baskets late and scored 24 points, and
Maalik Wayns had 15 to lead No. 6 Villanova to a 68-52 victory over
Bucknell on Friday night in the season opener for both teams.
Fisher helped the Wildcats break away from the pesky Bison with
two late 3s that stretched a seven-point lead to 18. Fisher – 8 for
16 from the field – is expected to assume the late-game scoring and
leadership held by Reynolds. Fisher scored 105 points in a
ballyhooed New York City summer league game that sent expectations
soaring on the Main Line
”I think Fish in the second half, offensively when he started
getting us going gave me a little reminder of Scottie,” Villanova
coach Jay Wright said. ”I think the team just needed to see him do
what he did tonight and then get confidence. That’s not there yet,
but I think it was a start tonight for Fish.”
Corey Stokes scored 11 points for the Wildcats, who never found
any consistent offense and couldn’t shake the Bison until the
waning minutes. The Wildcats led by only eight points with 6:10
left until Fisher scored some late baskets that gave them the
cushion needed to win their 38th straight game at the Pavilion.
The Wildcats have become NCAA tournament regulars under coach
Wright thanks to a steady string of star guards. Fisher, Wayns and
Stokes appear set to keep that going this season.
Their big men stayed busy underneath, with Antonio Pena and
Mouphtaou Yarou combining for 15 rebounds.
Darryl Shazier led Bucknell with 12 points. The Bison went 8 for
22 on 3-pointers.
”That was a good start for us,” Wright said. ”They’re a tough
team. I think they’ll be a contender for the championship of their
league. You’re not going to blow that team out. They’re not going
to let you.”
Villanova played without freshman forward JayVaughn Pinkston
after he was charged this week with two counts of simple assault
and harassment. He was involved in a weekend altercation that led
to an assault report and will be held out of games until the
university’s review is completed.
Pinkston can practice, but he was not on the bench.
The Wildcats could have used an added dose of offense. They were
streaky from the field and shot only 36 percent in the first half.
They were sloppy, too, with nine turnovers in the half – almost all
”It’s the first game, we’re going to make mistakes,” Fisher
said. ”We’ve still got a lot of room.”
With the Wildcats flailing, Bucknell was able to hang around
even with its own struggles shooting the ball. Cameron Ayers and
Bryan Cohen hit consecutive 3-pointers to make it 45-34.
Ayers hit his second 3 to cut the lead to 8 and G.W. Boon hit
one with 6:10 left to make it a 54-46 deficit.
Fisher led the way from 3-point range, helping Villanova go 10
for 27, and putting the game away.
”It was a blur,” Bucknell coach Dave Paulsen said. ”We cut
it, then he hit two or three in a row.”
They settled down with the ball and seemed to find their style
in the last 20 minutes. The Wildcats made only three turnovers and
shot 47 percent in the second half, more than enough to hold off
the brief Bison run.
The Wildcats get tested early with an NBA-type of schedule
ahead, including games on consecutive nights next week at the
The schedule doesn’t get easier for the Patriot League Bison,
who play Marquette on Sunday.
”We tried to talk to our guys about embracing the process,”
Wright improved to 6-0 against his alma mater. A three-year
letterman, Wright averaged 6.4 ppg in 74 career games for the Bison
and was their leading scorer as a junior (11.9 ppg).